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Changes to when train times can be confirmed

Network Rail are temporarily changing how far in advance train timetables can be confirmed. Train times and tickets are usually available for customers to plan and book their journeys up to 12 weeks before departure. However, possibly for the duration of the next timetable beginning on 20th May, some may not be available until closer to the date of departure.

The majority of weekday services will be unaffected, although journeys at weekends are likely to see changes to the expected timetable.

What this means for buying tickets

With only a small number of trains affected by this, we want customers to continue planning their journeys with confidence and have put in place a series of measures to reassure them. Customers will still be able to purchase tickets 12 weeks before departure, but it is possible the train timetable could change. We expect final timetables to be confirmed six weeks before the departure date.

If a customer purchases a ticket more than six weeks before their journey, they should check back with the train operator they will be travelling with at the six weeks mark to see if their train time has been altered. If so, and they then do not wish to travel, they can request a refund from their original retailer.

If travelling with CrossCountry, then customers can travel on an alternative CrossCountry train two hours either side of their original service, although any seat reservation on the original train cannot be honored on the other service.

Why this is happening

Train timetables changes twice a year, in May and December. As a result of billions of pounds of investment in the rail network, and in new trains and services, the May 2018 timetable change is the largest in living memory, needing the rescheduling of almost four million services – 600% more than normal.

The scale of this change was being managed by the rail industry, which was also taking into account unexpected alterations to infrastructure projects, to the introduction of new trains and to new services by some operators. Amongst other issues there was then a significant delay to the major electrification work between Manchester and Preston. This meant that the Network Rail timetable planning teams have been unable to deliver the new timetable within the usual timescales.

The decision to temporarily change the availability of final timetables has been taken to give the greatest possible certainty to customers about the services they can expect to run.

As details are confirmed over the next few weeks, we will be adding them to this webpage, please keep checking this page for updates.

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